Obsession with climate makes solving more pressing problems impossible

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney can claim victory with Court of Appeal ruling on federal carbon tax, but the fight is far from over. Supreme Court of Canada needs to weight in.

While Alberta Premier Jason Kenney took a victory lap after the Court of Appeal sided with the province, ruling the federal government’s carbon tax was an unwarranted intrusion into provincial jurisdiction, the race is far from over.

In a 4-1 ruling the province’s high court ruled that the carbon tax is essentially the camel’s nose in the tent.

The majority decision noted such things health care, minimum wages and justice are all national concerns but are administered by the provinces. For something to be a national concern within federal jurisdiction, it would have to be beyond the scope of provincial powers.

The justices said the carbon tax law gives the federal cabinet “endlessly expansive” powers.

“Conspicuous for its breadth, the act allows the federal government to intrude further into more and different aspects of lawful daily life.”

High courts in other jurisdictions, however, have ruled that the division of powers as laid out in the Constitution are not applicable because environment was not a concern then. At best, the carbon tax merely acknowledges joint responsibility. At worst, it represents the need for national strategy.

So the issue will be resolved by the Supreme Court of Canada in a few months time.

It’s hard to see the country’s high court ruling against the carbon tax when so many are obsessed with CO2 emissions.

That obsession, of course, is at the root of so many of our political clashes.

It’s a divisive issue not only for the global political sphere, but for the various national and local spheres as well.

This obsession with fossil fuels is standing in the way of resolving the indigenous question, with some natives siding with environmentalists and others siding with proponents of resource development.

And it leads to provinces attacking each other. British Columbia and Quebec vs Alberta immediately comes to mind.

It also leads to countries toying with the idea of imposing tariffs on those countries which have refused to embrace the Paris Accord. Think the European Union vs the United States.

Making matters worse are the timelines. The 2030 goals set out in the Paris Accord are not achievable and the ultimate goal of net-zero by 2050 are simply impossible. We would need to basically build hundreds of thousands of wind turbines per day to achieve those goals. It’s not happening and it will not happen.

The ultimate insult, of course, all the while we here in the West or North were doing this, developing countries such as China and India would be adding thousands of coal fired plants to create electricity, rendering all our emission cuts pointless.

So much so that China is predicted to the single largest emitter of CO2 in2050. Its share of emissions will be fully 50 per cent of global emissions.

And India would not be far behind.

In the real world, life is all about priorities. You need to have a roof over your head and food on the table before you can even begin to dream about a fancy set of clothes.

The Trudeau government’s priorities are askew. We have more important problems to solve – indigenous poverty, poor economic growth, staggering debt loads, to name but a few – before we can even begin to tackle global issues.

And with Canada contributing a mere 1.8 per cent of global CO2 emissions, it does not matter what we do. We could cease to exist tomorrow and our loss would not be noticed.

Perhaps the Supreme Court Justices will force the federal government to temper its ambitions. That would be the best outcome. But it’s also the least likely outcome. The entire world is obsessed. Why should our justices be any different?

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